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New user! Please help answer my questions! ENGINE SWAP

wards gilson tractor montogomery hydro briggs stratton robin garden conversion

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#1 drive_everything OFFLINE  

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Posted August 15, 2019 - 06:52 PM

Hello, I am a new user to this wonderful forum! I am the proud owner of a Montgomery Ward Gilson Hydro 16 Twin garden tractor. I requested it was given to me in a trade, and the folks I did business with happily bought it for me.

The 656cc Briggs twin engine didn’t seem like it was the original, and it lost spark soon after I got it running (it had a wiring fire). I did all the basic stuff, but lost the time and patience to properly fix the issue. I developed a “grudge” against that particular engine, so I yanked it out, and set it in a shed.

After quite a few months of the tractor sitting engineless under a tree, I got an 300cc big block Subaru/Robin engine. I did the swap and have been using the tractor for moving pallets and hay all winter (I moved the hydraulic cylinder to the rear and made a 3pt hitch and pallet/square bale mover for the hitch). When I made the hitch, I also fabricated a bracket to mount a belt starter/generator, and re-wired everything (the fire destroyed everything...).

Fast forward to this summer, the exhaust on the Subaru/Robin conked out, so it is VERY loud (like an open header), and the carb isn’t working great. The carb always had problems, since it was for a generator, it never really idled correctly. The pulley on the engine for the starter also got bent, because of me...

SO, now I have to do some intake and exhaust manifold work, plus buying a new carb, muffler, and pulley. I am planning to restore this tractor this winter.

I want your advice on whether or not you think I should continue the Subaru/Robin engine conversion, or fix the other Briggs I/C 656 motor? I feel like I now have the patience and skill to fix it. Please reply and leave your suggestion! Thanks, I will post some pictures of the project shortly!

#2 chieffan OFFLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2019 - 12:20 AM

I would go with what is in the tractor now.  Fix it up and get it running right if that is possible.  Most generator engines run  full throttle all the time so they do have an idling issue.  Can always go back to the other engine down the road should you like to.


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#3 boyscout862 ONLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2019 - 07:05 AM

Welcome to GTT. Two days ago, I picked up a MW Squire 12. Haven't gotten it running yet. Maybe today. I happen to like the old cast iron B&S engines. They are strong and idle smooth.

While using the Subaru, look at the B&S. You can go into our Manuals Section(3 free downloads per day) to find the manuals for the engine and the tractor. The "Repairman's Manual" for B&S is excellent. I've been using mine for 41 years. The MW Owners Manual has the wiring diagram for the tractor. Good Luck, Rick


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#4 drive_everything OFFLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2019 - 08:12 AM

Thanks for the quick reply! I think I am going to buy a new carb for the Subaru, and see if I can adjust it to idle better. I need a new carb anyway, since I would just use that engine on something else if I put the Briggs back in. If you have any thoughts on what I should do, please reply, I really like to know other folks ideas and such.

Here are some photos, as you can can tell, it gets used pretty hard, I had to make some wheel weights for the back for pulling. The thing is like a dozer now!

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#5 AllisKidD21 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2019 - 10:20 AM

Neat tractor! It's pretty cool that you mounted a S/G up to it, that should give 'er some good charging. Looks like the rear attachment you made works good!

Also I like that HD 11 in the background of the 3rd picture!
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#6 drive_everything OFFLINE  

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Posted August 16, 2019 - 12:36 PM

Thanks! Yeah, that HD11ep needs a torque converter rebuild, that is another winter project...

Should I go with another OEM style replacement carb for the Subaru, or should I try a Mikuni style? Either way I would still probably have to mess with the jetting to get it to idle and rev up properly!

#7 Sprint 6 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2019 - 06:30 AM

While you do have it running good, you are way down on power with the Subaru.  I would recommend finding a 16hp cast iron single cylinder Briggs, like what was used in that tractor model prior to the twin.  Then you will find out what those tractors can do.  Also, please don't pull a gravity box wagon with a garden tractor.  Just because it will move it doesn't mean you should.  The wagon out weighs the tractor by at last 3 times, it will run that tractor over in a split second if it has the chance.  A GT does not have the weight, or brakes, to control such a heavy load.


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#8 drive_everything OFFLINE  

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Posted August 18, 2019 - 04:01 PM

Thanks, yeah I looked around for a cast iron briggs, but they are kinda hard to come by around here. That is why I settled on the Subaru. It’s a good motor, and will start in any weather. It fired up on the first revolution in like 15 degree weather! Don’t worry, the gravity wagon was empty. We were fixing that fertilizer spreader to the left, and we needed to swap the wheels back from the wagon to the spreader (they got mixed at some point due to a flat that was repaired eventually). I just had to pull it from the fence row to the shop, and I was impressed by how well the little tractor handled it! I think I am just going to fix the Briggs twin and put it back in. I realized that these tractors are a pretty rare, so an original restored version should be worth some money, especially with all the attachments I have made.

#9 Sprint 6 OFFLINE  

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Posted August 19, 2019 - 05:39 AM

Do a restore for yourself, not monetary value.  Gilson/Wards are my favorite tractors, but they are not really highly collected.  Depending on the area of the country, they really aren't that rare.  We had a strong Montgomery Ward store south of here, and there was a Gilson seller just north of here.  So in my area, they turn up a lot.  I have the MW 16 gear drive my grandpa bought new in '74 or 75, another '74 gear drive, and a '72 MW 14 Hydrostatic.


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#10 drive_everything OFFLINE  

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Posted August 20, 2019 - 10:14 PM

Thanks! I really like the tractor, and I plan to keep it for a long time, unless I buy one of those imported compact diesel tractors. I almost purchased one last week (that is why I wanted to know people's thoughts on what would be most desirable to do with the tractor mechanically), but the deal fell through, and it probably would have costed a fortune in parts anyway.

 

Any ideas on doing a deck conversion to a newer murray or MTD? I think the briggs is going to have to go back in if I want to mow with it, the crankshaft on the Subaru is too short to reach the front pulleys, and I think that would also be pushing the limits of the Subaru anyway (although I am very impressed by the torque on that little motor!).







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: wards, gilson, tractor, montogomery, hydro, briggs, stratton, robin, garden, conversion

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